NJMP Thunderbolt 2010

Posted: 4th November 2010 by Joseph in NJMP Thunderbolt
Comments Off on NJMP Thunderbolt 2010

NJMP, Thunderbolt circuit recap: I’ve gotta say I’m a little less motivated than usual to write this update, for a few reasons, but mostly because the season is over, there’s a definite chill in the air, the car is all tucked away and it’s time to take care of other business. However, in an effort to update the few of you that enjoy our photos, videos and who may actually hope to one day get your Corrado out on the track, here’s the not so happy ending recap to our first time at NJMP’s Thunderbolt circuit.

As some of you know, prior to this event we had been plagued over the past month(s) with an engine stutter that we struggled to diagnose. Ultimately, after replacing a few different elements we were finally able to shake the stutter and enjoy the sweet sounds of a solid VR6 once again! A big thanks to everyone who helped us narrow it down. And to those who are curious, let’s just say the plug wires were a big factor. Thanks Mike! 🙂

So after we finally got the car in running order, we had to tackle the cracked windshield. And as always, thanks to our friends at 53Motorsports, we had the replacement glass in our hands and just as quickly installed it and added some vinyls to complete the look and provide some sun shade. We were ready to go. After a quick pre-track inspection by the guys at TyrolSport, we packed up without a problem and made our way down to Philly Thursday night.

This was to be a three day event with PCA’s Riesentoter chapter who we’ve run with a few times now, most recently at Watkins Glen a few months back. As per usual, we rolled up at the track at the azz-crack of dawn (actually it may have still been completely dark out), rolled the car out, headed over to tech, rolled through tech, and back over to base camp without any problems 🙂 Did I mention it was in the 40’s? As you can imagine, getting motivated at 7am in the cold while standing outside isn’t the easiest thing in the world to do, no matter how much fun we were about to have. After the driver’s meeting things warmed up a bit and we got ourselves ready for session one.

Session one, let’s just say, was more like walking through your house blindfolded, arms stretched out feeling your way around. You sorta know where you are going, but just don’t have the confidence to go about it at normal speeds. It’s the exact same thing on a new track. We’ve seen the track, we’ve watched videos, we’ve looked over the track map, but honestly it has very little impact on actually driving the track at speed. Fortunately, neither of us had any problems, but wow, what a messy first set of laps! Of course, the more you lap, the better you get, but with GT2, GT3 and a slew of other fast cars screaming around us, it definetely adds an element to the “learning”.

By mid day Friday, Jason and I were already forming our opinions of the track. We were getting faster, but we weren’t liking it any better. I think we both agreed that Thunderbolt just isn’t as fluid as Lightning is. We also quickly realized that our spring rates were way too soft for this track. The slower portion of the track has several, tight, left-right turns and really punishes the suspension… and my inner ear. We found there was a lot of roll in our car that we had never really experienced on other tracks. Regardless, we were there to enjoy some track time and we weren’t gonna let a little motion sickness bring us down 🙂

We knew going into this event that our tires were on their last leg. They weren’t showing any cords yet, but after three and a half seasons, they were bound to give up soon. Sure enough, right at the end of Jason’s session three, they were pushed to their limits. He had a nice moment on track where he locked up the inside front wheel, creating a flat spot all the way to the cords. At the time he wasn’t entirely sure he had done any damage, but ultimately, the tire was done.


Luckily, we had our spare factory wheels with Falcon Azensis with us; we’ve been lugging them around with us since day one, but this was the first time they were called into action. We put two of the good Toyo RA1’s up front and bolted up two Falcon’s in rear. We were less than confident they would be as good at the Toyo’s so we took it slow. Turns out, they were fine. Our lap times were no better, but no worse. So we pushed on. It might be session four or five, but at one point I did push a little too hard 🙂


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Here’s what it looks like to be a rolling chicane in the black/red run group with PCA:

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Notice I haven’t mentioned the engine? That’s right – it ran strong the entire time. Not so much as a hiccup! Well, maybe a hiccup here and there because we let the fuel tank get below 1/8 a couple times, but the engine itself was solid. I’d be remiss if I didn’t give a shout out to Olaf from Atomic Motorsports for all his help and continued support. Fortunately this time around, we didn’t have to call him for support, the hood stayed closed [i]while in the pits[/i] and we simply enjoyed our time.

This is what enjoying our time looks like. No tools, the hood is closed, just chill’n, etc, etc…

The end of day one came and we closed up shop and headed home for the night. We were happy with the day’s progress and knew tomorrow would be even better. Jason had been very ill all week, but he sucked it up and pushed through all day Friday. Unfortunately he wasn’t able to pull it off two days in a row. I got the word at 5:30 am Saturday morning that I would be flying solo for the day.

Saturday promised better weather, less wind and a less unfamiliar race track. I had high hopes. This was my first time out with this car on my own and needless to say it felt odd. Getting buckled in the car was per usual, although I seem to be able to snap the driver’s net in easier, even while inside the car then Jason can from outside (he’ll claim he was weak from sickness, but whatever). Sadly, I had no need to plug in to the radio harness as I had no one to talk to 🙁 Anyway, session one for me was crazy. There were forty-plus cars on track; that’s approximately thirty-five, modern, fast, GT2/3 Porsches with experienced drivers/instructors, a hand full of current Corvettes, and me. I drove in my mirrors the entire session!

Since Jason didn’t attend, I did have the option to run with his white group which had approximately twenty cars of various makes and models. So I did just that. I spoke with the track day officials and scored a white wrist band which afforded me the ability to run with either the black or white run groups. Without hesitation, I buckled back in for session two, but this time with the white group and hoped for some clear track, decent lap times and a chance to drive with my eyes focused on the track ahead, not what was about to run me over. I’m happy to report, I did all of those things. Here’s the last eleven minutes of that session.

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Click, click, click… that’s how my session three started 🙁 WTF? I was all buckled in, helmet on, cameras were rolling, the session was a minute from starting and there I was pressing the little red starter button and all I got was ‘click’. I figured it was the starter relay, but that meant I had to unbuckle, take the net down, climb out of the car, take off the helmet, get tools, do work, blah, blah, blah. So instead, I gave the relay a good whack! Still nothing. F^cker. So I unbuckled, pulled down the net, climbed out, took off my helmet, got the allen wrench, pulled the relay, swapped the relay, pushed the starter button… click. Starter wire maybe? Pulled the hood pins, popped the hood, check the starter wire and plug, shut the hood… ran back around, pushed the starter button… click. Son of a… Wiggled the wire on the fuse block for the starter, checked the fuse, pushed the starter button… VROOOM! Nice! Run back around, climb back in, put the net up, buckle up, put the helmet on, drive away while putting on my gloves, get waved through at the pit wall, and start the session.

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Yup. The day/weekend/season was over just like that 🙁

A few photos of Jason from Friday

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And of course, the carnage:
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Anyway, it’s time to put her away for the winter. We obviously have a few projects on our plate before next season so we’ll be sure to keep you posted. We are thinking carbon fiber hood and polycarbonate windscreen for starters 😉 We hope to compete in a time attack event next year, but that remains to be seen.

I’ll be posting up a few more videos as I get the time to create them. Until next season!

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